The 11-member committee formed to look into the impeachment of Governor Anne Waiguru has denied claims that it is out to save her and promised to deliver justice.
Meeting for the first time, the committee, through its chairman Cleophas Malala, condemned lawmakers who have cast aspersions on its capacity to be impartial.
“The membership of this committee is competent and we assure the people of Kirinyaga and the public that all parties will be treated equally when they appear before us,” Mr Malala said, moments after he was unanimously elected to chair the committee.
“We know the whole country is watching us, but the only assurance we can give is that the judgment will be fair,” he added.
Those who opposed the formation of the committee, led by Elgeyo-Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, said its purpose was to overthrow the will of the people of Kirinyaga as expressed by the ward reps during the impeachment on June 9.
Kirinyaga Woman Rep Purity Ngirici also opposed the idea of a committee, saying it was susceptible to corruption due to its small membership.
“We shall neither be intimidated by members of the National Assembly nor shall this committee be influenced by whatever is happening out there to make a decision,” Mr Malala assured, stating that the committee will not be executing its mandate as an amalgam of political parties but as a House.
Nominated Senator Judith Pareno warned members of the National Assembly against dragging ODM leader Raila Odinga’s name into every small conflict, adding that the party had not held any meeting to take a position on the issue.
“Personally I have not talked to Baba (Mr Odinga) in the past four months and therefore claims that we took a position is only aimed at undermining the Senate,” she said.
Kilifi Senator Stewart Madzayo said there is no way the committee will “whitewash” the governor and challenged the public to await the outcome of the process.
The committee has 10 days within which it must decide the fate of the governor who was impeached on account of gross violation of the Constitution and abuse of office.
On the violation of the Constitution, the governor is accused of failing to deliver the annual state of the county address to the county assembly. She is also accused of undermining the authority of the assembly and violating public finance management principles enshrined in the Constitution.
The ward reps claimed county funds are not spent in an open and accountable manner and that there has never been public participation on financial matters.
On abuse of office, the ward reps want the governor punished for impropriety in conferring a financial benefit to herself contrary to the Public Finance Management Act and the Salaries and Remuneration Act.
They accuse Ms Waiguru of establishing a tender committee comprising partisan staff and getting allowances for foreign trips she never made.
With the election of the chairman, the 10 days stipulated in law to determine the matter started running yesterday, meaning the committee must submit its report by June 26.
The committee must serve the governor with all documents related to the impeachment by close of business on Thursday. She will then have until close of business on Friday to file her responses to the Senate. The assembly can also take advantage of this period to submit any other documents to support its case. The public hearing will be on Tuesday June 23, while the governor will respond to the case on Wednesday, June 24.
Yesterday, the 23 reps who voted to kick out the governor expressed disappointment after the Senate opted for the committee. Led by Majority Leader Kamau Murango, they accused the Senate of letting them and the residents of Kirinyaga down.
“We were shocked when the senators voted to have the governor tried by a committee,” Mr Murango said, expressing fears that they would not get justice. The reps said they would impeach the governor again should the Senate clear her.
“We shall not work with a governor who constantly defies the assembly and does what she wants in total disregard of the law,” said Mr Murango.
Mutira ward rep Kinyua Wangui, who moved the impeachment motion, vowed that he not will give up his mission to have the county boss kicked out of office.
“Is Waiguru special? Why her impeachment can’t be handled like that of former Kiambu Governor Ferdinand Waititu?” he asked.
Additional reporting by George Munene.